The light-bulb just went off. And now you have a million dollar idea. Should you quit your day job? The situation varies from individual to individual, but before you put-in your two weeks notice, weigh the pros and cons of launching a business while holding down a full-time job. I had to do this before I quit my job.
The obvious pro of keeping the job is that you’ll have a consistent income. This will help take care of your bills and debts as you put your new business venture into motion. The main concern about keeping your full-time position is that you’re going to run out of time. Spending 40 hours or so per week at your day job doesn’t leave a whole lot of other time to build your business and have a personal life. The good news is that this is temporary. You may have to do this for no more than a year or so.
I had to weigh in these options when I quit my job years ago. I was scared, much like I'm sure you are. I ended up working for almost a year while I was building my side venture. Now, years later, I look back on the time I spent and wish I would have done it sooner. Here are 10 of best ways to launch your business while keeping your job.
1. Take baby steps.
There is absolutely no way that you’re going to be able to launch a new business overnight. It’s going to take time - maybe even years. There’s no need to rush in and suddenly devote 40 hours to some nonexistent business on top of your already hectic schedule. Ease into it. Take baby steps. Maybe start with just an hour each night after dinner. Later, add add another hour first thing in the morning.
During the first couple of weeks, you need to figure out the schedule that best suits you. If you’re a morning person, get up early to work on your business instead of just watching the morning news.
Once you have a schedule, stick to it as much as you can. However, keep one thing in mind. You don’t have to spend an exact amount of hours each week, such as 40 hours. If you can maximize your time and accomplish your goals in just in an hour, then you probably don’t have to spend any more time on your business for the night.
2. Don’t burn bridges.
Even though you’re launching your own business, you still have certain obligations with your current employer. You still have to be at work everyday on time, complete all of your assignments in a timely manner, and never work on your business on your employer’s dime. This will keep your professional integrity intact. You never know. Your former boss could be a potential client or could even refer you once you’re up and running.
Prior to launching your business, examine documents like non-disclosure agreements and any other employment or assignments agreements that you have signed. If you’re not familiar with the legal jargon, seek the advice of a local startup attorney.
3. Test, test, and test again.
Hopefully, you’ve validated your business idea. If not, stop right now to research and test. If no one is going to purchase your product or service, then you’re just wasting your time and money. If you have validated your idea and things look like they’re on the up-and-up, you’re not completely off the hook for testing. Test your business ideas continually to make them stronger, better and more appealing to your target audience.
Ask for feedback from your friends or family. Talk to potential customers wherever and whenever you can. Create a landing page. Ask potential leads to fill out a survey with SurveyMonkey. Build a prototype and showcase it at industry events or film a product demo.
4. Set realistic goals.
Think of goals like a road-map. If you've never been in a specific place before, how else do you expect to know where you’re going? It’s common for successful businesses to establish three sets of goals - daily, weekly, and monthly - to help them achieve both short and long-term goals.
Your daily goals should be the items you can cross off you to-do-list, like responding to emails. Weekly goals are slightly larger projects that you probably can’t complete in one day, such as working on the design of your website. Monthly goals are milestone events like launching your website the first month, having any sales at all the third month, quitting your job in the sixth month and hiring your first team member in the ninth month.
5. Invest what you can into your business.
One of the best things about keeping your full-time job is that you can use any extra money to invest into your new company. Instead of taking out a huge loan, you can piece together your business plan over the next several months. For example, you can invest in anything from proper research, product development, website development, marketing, and legal counsel while you're still bringing in an income to keep you afloat until your business takes off.
6. Find a co-founder.
Launching a new business is serious work. Launching a new business while holding down a full-time job can is brutal. That’s why you should find a co-founder for your startup. Co-founders can bring a different set of skills to the business. Let’s say you’re a good marketer, but don’t have the coding skills to build a website or app. A co-founder with those skills will save you time and money while making you more attractive to investors. Co-founders share the workload and stress, offer a listening ear. They are your brainstorming partner and increase your productivity.
When looking for a co-founder, make sure that they are a good fit for both parties. You can start by taking a look at the scope of your needs. If you’re a strong marketer, do you really need or want another marketer as your partner? You also need to look at their skill level, passion, experience and personality.
While you’re still putting in your 9-5, you should be networking at industry events and searching on sites like Startup Grind, CoFoundersLab and StartupWeekend.
7. Throw away the television.
I don’t want you to literally throw away your television. You should, however, limit your distractions. Let’s say that you set aside 7 pm to 10 pm every weeknight for your business. You need to spend that time focusing only on your business. Have a quiet place to work in your home. Turn off your smartphone. Get off of Facebook, when you should be doing influencer outreach. Only do one thing at a time. The research on the multitasking is beginning to show the truth of the matter, that multitasking is a myth. Do one thing at a time. Do the task faster, but just one task at a time.
Removing distractions will boost your productivity so that you can achieve your business launch date.
8. Outsource as much as you can.
As you juggle between two jobs, you’re going to quickly realize how valuable your time is. So why waste it on tasks that you could outsource? Maybe you could hire a writer to start churning out content for your blog. Or, you could hire a virtual assistant to help keep you on track, such as book appointments, and respond to emails. There are 53+ million freelancers out there who can help you with pretty much any task imaginable.
Outsourcing will you save time and you’ll also have someone who has a different set of skills. Instead of throwing your keyboard against the wall because you don’t understand a piece of code, you could outsource your web development to someone who has a web development skill.
Sites like Freelancer, Upwork and Elance are good places to start.
9. Start generating revenue.
As soon as you make that first dollar, you’ll suddenly realize that this has gone from an idea to a bona fide business. As the dollars keep coming, you can continue to invest even more money back into the business, which in turn means that you’ll be one-step closer to completely going out on your own. I recommend that you re-invest all the money back into the business to make more.
If you are providing a service, you can start consulting on the side since you have the skills to offer to others. If you have product, you can consider taking pre-orders for the product.
10. Family always comes first.
Don’t walk in the door and immediately head to your home office. Spend time with your family. Whether it’s eating dinner together, watching a television show, going for a walk or helping the kids with homework, it’s necessary that you have this time with your loved ones. Becoming a business owner is already going to put a strain on your relationships. Don’t make matters worse by being completely absent from the family portrait.
I personally like to set "working" hours that are acceptable to my family. Those hours tend to be in the morning because I find kids don't remember mornings but never forget evenings. Don't let this venture take over your life.
If you’re single, then make sure that you spend quality time with your friends. You need to blow off some steam every now and then. Burnout isn’t going to increase your productivity.
Here's to building your dream!